Organizing my music. All automatically.
April 15, 2006 12:44 PM   Subscribe

I've never really bought albums/CDs and ripped them. Atleast not all of them, I probably have like 15-20 albums, but that's it. The major part of my music collection happens to come from the Napster times. Where only tracks would be downloaded, which have little or no filename according to convention. So, I have tracks like "12-Thievery Corp-Fedime's Flight.mp3". I'd like to see this track as "Thievery Corporation - Fedime's Flight.mp3"

Is there any simple to use software, that will scan all the music I have in, for example, one drive (Drive F:). Look it up on CDDB/FreeDB/Amazon/Yahoo/etc, get the real information, rename the file, and update the artist/track tags and move it to a clean, new folder? All without too much human intervention? I've searched on here, and I've tried numerous taggers, and so far MB Tagger worked well. But 60% of my collection comes up as "unidentified". It did the renaming/moving/updating tags thing really well. But too bad, it doesn't have good, correct info for 60% of my music. Has anyone ever accomplished this, without spending too much time on it personally?
posted by Devileyezz to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Well, I did about 20gb of music in about 10 hours over a couple of days recently. I used two pieces of software, one's free, the other isn't, but I think it had a demo mode for 14 or 30 days that should cover you.

1) ID3 tag software and jukebox MediaMonkey
2) ID3 tag finder MusicBrainz

First off, determine which music has proper tags, albeit maybe not reflected by the filename, and which ones have no useful info at all. No useful info in this case would be a song named "Jazz - It don't mean a thing.mp3" with no track, album or artist info.

MediaMonkey provides the heavy lifting for renaming files that have valid ID3 tags, or valid filenames, or both. You can do batch editing, forcing the files to be renamed from the ID3 tags, or forcing the ID3 tags to fill out from the file name. It's very simple to do, you can basically just same rename all with - or whatever combination you want.<br> <br> Finding the info for the tracks that you don't properly know what they are can be done with the MusicBrainz software. (Note, I like the older tagger, not the new Picard version, but YMMV.)<br> <br> Basically with MusicBrainz you drop the tracks into it and it checks their hashes with files other people have done, and makes an educated guess as to what the file actually is. If you agree it tags the files with all the info from the web site. I did about 1200 files with this program and only gave up on finding info for about 20 of them. It'll go a lot farther with popular music than it will with Jazz or classical, so YMMV depending on what type of music you listen to.<br> <br> Step 3, repeat the MediaMonkey fixing on the files tagged by MusicBrainz, and then you should have all your music arranged how/where you want it, with complete ID3 tag info and filenames of whatever format you picked.</track></artist>
posted by tiamat at 12:58 PM on April 15, 2006

I forgot, MediaMonkey also supports getting album info from Amazon, but I've never used that feature, so I'm not sure how dependent it is on having accurate information to start with.
posted by tiamat at 1:00 PM on April 15, 2006

[moved more to inside]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:52 PM on April 15, 2006

Try Tag & Rename - works well for me.
posted by kenchie at 1:56 PM on April 15, 2006

Tag & Rename is great, but I don't know if it does the specific things he's asking about. Then again, it's got a million features I've never used, so maybe it does. Maybe kenchie will come back and say a little more about it.
posted by Hildago at 3:01 PM on April 15, 2006

Any decent ID3 tagger (I like MP3 Book Helper, which is very powerful, although the interface is a bit obtuse) should be able to rename your files according to the tags already present in the MP3 file.

I just wrote a bit recommending MusicBrainz, but it looks like you've already tried it. That's about as good as it gets for automatic track identification, probably. CDDB only works well for full albums (since it identifies CDs based on the individual track times, and that's all).
posted by neckro23 at 3:23 PM on April 15, 2006

I used Tag&Rename to organize about 15Gigs of new mp3s today. It took less than an hour, most of which was spent handling weird exceptions.

MusicBrainz was basically useless for me, since it couldn't recognize most of my collection. Tag&Rename is fantastic, but it takes some work to get up to speed with it. You can fill in tags based on the filename, whcih should be your first step. Do it in batches by first selecting all the files that have more or less the same filename format. Then you can look up any still missing tags on Amazon or freedb, but it's a little fussy and won't be fully automatic. Once you have correct tags, you can automatically rename things easily. You can create a directory structure as part of the rename process.

Some Tag&Rename tips:
Use the mask editor to save your configurations so that you can reuse them.
Use ".." in the rename string to move things to a directory higher up in the hierarchy.
If you're processing a lot of files, you might want to go to Options -> File List Options and uncheck "use easy file selection". You'll get check boxes next to each file, which makes it easier to control what you want to process automatically and what you need to process by hand.
Hit F5 to fix tags for a single file by hand. Select a file and click on a filename to rename it by hand, like in Explorer.
Tag&Rename sometimes goes funny when you're trying to rename files that have a full path name longer than the Windows limit. If you use Preview, you'll see files start to appear with Japanese characters when that happens. Click cancel and uncheck the files that are giving you problems, then fix them by hand. Moving everything to a directory closer to the root of the disk will make this problem occur less often.
posted by fuzz at 3:32 PM on April 15, 2006

tiamat: I'm gonna try MM now. Hopefully it works well.

kenchie, Hildago, fuzz: T&R seems nice to me, except it's not automated.

fuzz: How did you do everything in 1 hour, if it needed manual interaction especially when you did the tagging yourself, by hand. I'd like to know more..

Thanks a lot for the help guys, really appreciated. But keep 'em coming.
posted by Devileyezz at 5:58 PM on April 15, 2006


I have tried several automated solutions to your problem, and none have really worked to my satisfaction. I find I end up doing as much work correcting problems and redoing stuff the program messed up as I would have doing it by hand. Try MP3tag to retag and rename the files (also, unrelated to your question, I recommend running everything through MP3Gain to equalize volumes).
posted by Rock Steady at 1:39 AM on April 16, 2006

Rock Steady, I thank you for your honest input.

I've done everything so far, tried every software that people recommend, and nothing seems to be working. Atleast not the way I wanted.

And the Mp3Gain, I've done it before I got on with all this other stuff, so it looks like we're on the same page, lol.
posted by Devileyezz at 7:14 AM on April 16, 2006

PS: Is there a tutorial for the tagging of files that are unnamed? There's like 2000 of them. :-S
posted by Devileyezz at 7:25 AM on April 16, 2006

T&R is "semi-automatic", in the sense that it will handle a lot of files very rapidly, but you have to tell it what to do.

The way I usually work it is to get all of my files in one directory, then open that directory in T&R.

When the files are listed in the program, there should be little white checkboxes next to them. On the menu bar, there's an icon that looks like one of those boxes with a blue check mark in it. If you click this, it selects all the files. Then, if you have ID3 information for them, you just press to select the "rename files" tab, then press the "test" button to go into the mask editor, then mess around with it until you've got what you want, then press "rename".

Unfortunately, unless it has some functionality I'm not aware of, it can't just take a directory full of random songs and look up the ID3 information. It seems to work by identifying a group of songs as being on the same album, then downloading info for that album.
posted by Hildago at 3:58 PM on April 16, 2006

tiamat: MM doesn't work well. Almost everything is manual. One thing is for sure, if you're up for doing it manually.. it works really well, if not.. forget automation.

Hildago: I'm gonna try that out. Thanks. :)
posted by Devileyezz at 5:57 PM on April 16, 2006

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